Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review - Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Title: Winter Garden (Amazon)
Author: Kristin Hannah
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: 2010
Pages: 394
Genre: Fiction
Source: Library

From the author of the smash-hit bestseller Firefly Lane and True Colors comes a powerful, heartbreaking novel that illuminates the intricate mother-daughter bond and explores the enduring links between the present and the past.

Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard: the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father falls ill, Meredith and Nina find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. As children, the only connection between them was the Russian fairy tale Anya sometimes told the girls at night. On his deathbed, their father extracts a promise from the women in his life: the fairy tale will be told one last time - and all the way to the end. Thus begins an unexpected journey into the truth of Anya's life in war-torn Leningrad, more than five decades ago. Alternating between the past and present, Meredith and Nina will finally hear the singular, harrowing story of their mother's life, and what they learn is a secret so terrible and terrifying that it will shake the very foundation of their family and change who they believe they are. (Goodreads)

Kim’s take –

This book turned out to be very good despite what I thought was a rather slow beginning. Sisters, Meredith and Nina, grew up with a doting father and a seemingly unloving mother. Meredith has chosen to stay close to home, managing the family orchards while her marriage is falling apart. Nina travels the world as a photographer and seems to only be committed to her work.

When their father becomes ill and subsequently dies, both daughters are at his side. His last wish was for their mother to tell them the entire Russian fairy tale which was told to the girls in pieces over the years. Though it seemed that they would never get their mother to grant this last wish, Anya eventually begins to tell them the complete tale. That’s when the book got very good. The tale becomes the story of the tragic life their mother endured in Russia before marrying their father. How she even made it out alive is astonishing. The tale completely changes the relationship between mother and daughters. It explains the seeming disapproval and distance from their mother, which the girls experienced while growing up. And a surprise ending made it even better.   

The description of Anya’s life in Russia was excellent and made you feel as if you were experiencing what she was going through during such tragic, horrible times. It was another great book from Kristin Hannah.

Kim’s Rating – 4/5


  1. Ooh great review. I hadn't heard of this one but it sounds like it would be a fantastic read. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

    PS: I have a MASSIVE box of YA books from the 80s & 90s I've collected or saved over the years. Sometimes they are just what I'm in the mood for when I can't sleep or in a reading funk. So fun. :)

  2. I have read several of Kristin Hannah's books. I have really enjoyed the last few. Winter Garden is the kind of book that takes you somewhere completely different than you expect.